Fragment from the Last Will and Testament of Edward S. Harkness, 1940


Note: What follows is an astonishingly prophetic extract from the will of Edward S. Harkness, the chief benefactor of Oberlin’s Harkness Hall, a student co-operative. It has been reproduced here, both in order to pay respect to an honorable philanthropist and to provide some explanation for the current state of the co-op. – Jesse Noily


I, Edward Stephen Harkness, being of sound mind and body, do hereby declare that a portion of my estate be dedicated to the foundation of a dormitory building at Oberlin College, that shall always smell like piss and incense.


Let this facility be perpetually occupied by cynical communists loudly engaging in radical leftist discourse in the common areas into the wee hours of the morning. Let there be undergarments and full jugs of milk left out in the dining room overnight, and let ants parade triumphantly through the halls carrying tiny homemade loaves of bread on their backs.


Indeed, Harkness Hall shall be the stuff of legends and a prideful testament to my memory. It will be this building that tour groups hurriedly walk past on their way to the AJLC. There shall be no human chefs in the kitchen, but instead only a horde of rats cooking soup to the sound of Parisian accordion music. The food will be surprisingly good, though.


The residents of my building will stride pridefully barefoot across Oberlin campus smoking cigarettes and debating whether Pokémon or Digimon is a better franchise. Harkness Hall will be a refuge for the ostracized politics major who likes to dress like a homeless person despite her father owning two charter airline services, or that insecure comparative literature major who found Dascomb “too neoliberal” for his taste. It will be Harkness where these students find a home.

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